Many Detroit readers are probably already familiar with Herman Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza executive who, this fall, came out of nowhere to emerge as a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination.
In our society, ageism is unlawful. An employer in Detroit, for example, could not look at an applicant's gray hair, think he is too old and refuse to hire him on that basis. Nor could he fire an employee simply for being too old; that would be age-based discrimination. Then again, it is just a fact that some tasks cannot be performed by people who are too young or too old. The demands of the job would mean it would be unwise to have a 90-year-old on active firefighting duty, for example.
The Detroit Public Schools District recently reached a settlement with a former superintendent who claimed that the district's then-board president inappropriately touched himself as the two of them met to discuss the superintendent's employment contract.
As readers in Detroit probably know, a great many people are out of work these days. These people face a double-barreled problem. First, there are not that many jobs to go around. Second, after an unemployed person finds a job, he or she might face a bias against people who are or have been out of work. While this practice has not yet been made explicitly illegal, arguments to categorize it as unacceptable discrimination are growing ever louder.
Readers in Detroit know, of course, that when they apply for a job, they are evaluated on the application materials they submit, such as a cover letter and resume. But what about other information that is readily available to employers? In this age of social networking and the privacy-is-dead Internet, there is a so much out there that employers can easily access, whether the applicant wants that information to be found or not. But is that content fair game, or would making a call on that information constitute unlawful discrimination? The answer, always, is "it depends."